The Toronto Blue Jays are moving closer to home.
The team announced today that it will be moving back to Buffalo, and will once again play home games at Sahlen Field — home of their Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons — beginning June 1. Buffalo is where the Blue Jays called home last season after the Canadian government denied their request to travel in and out of the country for games in Toronto.
“The club’s goal has always been to return to play on home soil as soon as it is safe to do so, and until then, the team will play its home games at Sahlen Field,” the team said in a media release.
So far this season, the Blue Jays had been playing home games in Dunedin at their Spring Training facility.
One difference from last season is that fans in Buffalo will be allowed into Sahlen Field, at 24% capacity, in accordance with local and state guidelines. Last year, a few diehard baseball fans in the area checked out a game by peeking over the outfield fence from the freeway.
Those fans will be allowed to buy tickets this time around, provided they can provide proof of full vaccination of a negative COVID-19 test result. Tickets go on sale next week.
Other safety protocols fans will be required to follow when attending games include:
- Symptom screening and temperature check prior to entry
- Face coverings required at all times for fans two years and older except when actively eating or drinking in their seats
- Tickets sold in pods of up to four seats, spaced a minimum of six feet apart
- Mobile ticketing only to limit fan touchpoints
The Blue Jays and Bisons will also be making additional renovations to Sahlen Field, including:
- Moving the bullpens off the field to behind the outfield walls
- New batting cages built beyond right field
- Resodding the outfield grass, completing a full field replacement that began with the infield in 2020
- New weight room and renovated clubhouse facilities
- LED light bulb replacements plus two additional temporary lighting poles
“The club extends its sincere thanks to Bob and Mindy Rich and the Buffalo Bisons organization; the City of Buffalo, Erie County, and New York State officials; and Buffalo-area fans who have welcomed Blue Jays and Bisons players to Sahlen Field for nearly a decade,” the Blue Jays said in a media release. “The team is excited to return to the site of its strong 2020 campaign, this time with in-person cheers from Buffalo-area fans.
“We want to thank Canadians for everything they have done to combat COVID-19 in our communities. Blue Jays fans should continue to follow the latest local public health guidelines, including non-essential travel outside of Canada; through these efforts, we can hope for the day we reunite with our fans on home soil.”